18- In Which Conjectures Run Wild
The woman, Eva, was an absolute beauty. She definitely looked exactly like Turner, except in a wig. Their facial structures were identical, and her withered and stickly figure was certainly reminiscent of his as well. And it was strange because Elena could see Turner in her face, but not Sage. The woman did not look like Sage with long hair—she looked like Turner with long hair. It would have been interesting to stand there and ponder about that if it wasn't for imminent attack.
"Can we fight off this many more?" Lawson said, referring to the Others, clearly unconcerned with the crisis Turner was going through when he saw his mother standing there though she had been dead for five years.
Even if Turner had forgotten that Hunt was capable of doing this, Elena was certain someone had explained the situation to Turner regarding Hunt using the bones of their mothers in order to create servants that resembled them. Despite knowing this, it didn't take away from the pure shock of seeing her.
Phinn noticed Turner's face so he grabbed onto his brother by the back of his neck and pulled him in close to him. "That's not your mom, T," he said forcefully. "Nothing about her is your mom, all right? If you can't keep that straight, then just don't look at her."
Turner was staring straight at Phinn, so he nodded hesitantly and then pointed his eyes at the ground.
"All of you, come over here," Garrett said, gesturing for them to come behind him.
Everyone was quick to comply, moving slowly as they stepped back to where Garrett was standing, watching and waiting for the next disaster to happen.
"Judge Hunt," Elena said even though Garrett shushed her after the first syllable. She quickly repeated herself several times, but it didn't work. That was the only thing they knew of so far that would be able to defeat Hunt's servants, but whenever he was nearby, it couldn't make them disappear.
"Does that mean Hunt's here?" Phinn wondered quietly.
"Interesting question, Young Phinn," Eva said. "I'm here. Somewhat."
Turner let out a small gasp at the sound of her voice.
"He's channeling her," Elena mumbled to herself for Olivier's benefit (though Olivier had no idea what she was talking about), remembering when Hunt had channeled himself through Ryder in order to prevent this trick from working. He was here—but not here. But, if they had made the correct assumption about how difficult it was for him to maintain the channeling, then it wouldn't last for too long.
"In theory," Eva started, keeping her gun raised as Garrett matched her stance (even though his bullets wouldn't affect her), "your plan was a very clever one. I didn't anticipate you might abandon the Kingdoms all together."
Abandon the Kingdoms all together—that meant he didn't know Cole was in a Kingdom right now. Which meant he wasn't tracking them with the Thars. Right?
Her mind raced for another possible explanation for how he could be tracking them. It had to be one of them—Lawson, Phinn, Turner—that made it so he could keep tabs on where they were.
She watched as Eva's eyes wandered. Was Hunt looking for the other Sons?
Then her eyes fell back on the group. "This is even more interesting," she remarked. "There are only three of you here."
Hunt was looking for the other Sons. Clearly, he was not anticipating that they had separated. That meant he didn't know there was a group already heading towards Siegler.
"I suppose it doesn't matter," said Eva with a sigh as she cocked the gun. "The one I need is here. The rest will turn up eventually."
"Lord Phinn," Garrett said, putting his arm up in front of Phinn to make sure he backed up.
Phinn actually did take a step back. Elena didn't know how Garrett intended to protect all of them. After all, it didn't look like Clinton would last very much longer. Although his eyes were still glowing red, he definitely wasn't standing up straight enough to put Elena at ease.
"Young Phinn," said Eva. "I think I should let you know that I am currently pursuing the Kingdom of Storms."
"Bullshit," Phinn spat immediately, taking that step forward all over again, but Garrett kept him in place.
"These are your options," Eva continued. "You can come with me to get yourself into the Kingdom. Then, Madam Anya will be free to go as she pleases and no harm will come to her." She paused, smiling. "I think you know the second option."
Elena watched as Phinn's fists clenched. Garrett actually took a fistful of Phinn's shirt in order to keep him in place, anticipating he might charge.
"You think I believe you've actually found it?" Phinn yelled.
"I suppose your defense right now is your self-assurance that I haven't," said Eva slyly.
Phinn began to charge like Garrett thought he would. In response, Garrett pulled on Phinn's shirt and nearly swung him all the way around, wrenching him back and throwing him to the ground with only one arm, all the while keeping the gun pointed at Eva and barely even batting an eye at Phinn. Phinn fell over, looking extremely disgruntled that he had been taken by surprise, and Garrett did not release him. As Phinn tried to get up, Garrett pushed against his chest and kept him flat on his back. This act seemed to shock Phinn enough to get him thinking straight again.
"Lord Phinn, don't make this more difficult," Garrett said, still not looking at Phinn to give this stern advice.
Several passengers from the train started shrieking. Eva looked at the train out of the corners of her eyes, and then back at the group.
"I want the Chaste Beauty, Young Turner and Young Phinn," said Eva, speaking to the Others standing behind her. "I don't care what happens to the rest."
Elena panicked in the brief second as they watched Eva sort of surge up and then relax her stance, her gun wavering for an instant. Elena decided that was definitely Hunt leaving her body—or spirit—or however he channeled people. "Judge Hunt!" she yelled.
Although she was shushed again, it worked this time. Eva exploded into harmless wisps of smoke, disappearing into the sky, so she repeated it a few more times for good measure. Elena was glad she was able to recognize that, because that was simply one more thing they didn't have to worry about.
Of course, they did have to worry about the twenty-or-so Others now advancing in their direction. Hunt definitely thought Turner was still Infected, and that was the only reason he would be spared a violent death. Phinn, Turner and Olivier were actually fairly well off in this situation. Elena, Lawson, Clinton and Garrett had to be a little more careful.
Garrett finally let Phinn go and allowed him to get back up, glaring at him squarely to make sure he behaved. He looked to Clinton, and the two of them wordlessly communicated with their expressions.
"Don't overdo it," Garrett said to Clinton.
"You too," Clinton said, smiling slightly.
Clinton then stood up straight in front of Garrett and took the same stance that he had while inside the train. When his arms rocketed towards the Others, they were swept up off their feet and sent hurtling backwards. In the meantime, Garrett dropped down to one knee and closed his eyes tightly. As the Others recovered, Garrett abruptly stood and performed the same motion Clinton had.
This resulted in a much stronger gust of wind. The Others, which had only begun to recover, were shot up into the air several feet and catapulted away. Garrett spun around to face the group behind him to reveal that his eyes had turned red as well, but they rapidly faded back to their original color. He wasn't able to maintain the Trance like Clinton could.
"Come on," he instructed, grabbing Clinton by the wrist and hoisting him up to his feet.
He pushed Clinton along. Clinton grabbed Olivier and got her going, while Garrett corralled the rest of the Sons, in particular taking Lawson by the elbow to make sure he could walk.
But they weren't walking. It soon became very apparent to Elena that the game plan was actually to run away. As soon as Phinn recognized this, he intervened and took responsibility of Lawson.
Clinton led the way, hopping over the connector for the two train cars. Elena only tried to keep up. They didn't have too long until the Others collected themselves and caught up to them. Garrett remained at the rear of the group and intercepted the first Other that pursued them, physically plowing into its chest, then rocketing his fist up at its chin. The Other flew up into the air from the force—it went so high that Elena actually momentarily paused to watch. As it landed on the ground again, she realized Garrett was approaching her, trying to hurry her along.
She couldn't believe it. What kind of power did Garrett possess? She had seen him demonstrate a few times that he had above-average strength for someone his size, but what she had witnessed just then was inhuman. He had to be using magic in order to make him stronger somehow. And, once they made it out of this mess, she would be sure to ask him about it.
On the other side of the train track, there was a small woodsy area. Garrett led Elena into the trees. He pointed up ahead at the backs of the rest of the group still running in front and encouraged her along as he took some seconds to deal with the next Other that was approaching. As much as Elena wanted to stand and marvel at his abilities, she tore after everyone else. She was able to catch up because of Lawson's rather strangled pace.
Clinton reluctantly leaned against one of the trees as he looked back, watching Phinn, Elena and Lawson catch up. He was standing with Turner and Olivier, looking extremely impatient. His eyes were still ferociously red but, as Elena warned him about this, he told her to be quiet and started running again.
"How far are we going to run?" Turner asked, almost tripping over a fallen branch (it was difficult to see in the dark)
"Just run," Clinton instructed.
Elena glanced back. She couldn't see Garrett.
Up ahead, she saw it was a little lighter. The trees were thinning out. In less than a minute, she was sprinting into the open air again, only to come to a dramatic stop as Clinton almost tumbled over the edge—of a cliff?
They all stopped short. It wasn't really a cliff, actually. It was about a twenty foot drop to a small river down below. There was a current, though it didn't look all that strong, but it still wasn't something Elena wanted to blindly leap into.
The dread in Clinton's face as he whirled around indicated to her that perhaps they would have to do just that.
Garrett burst from the trees and, once again, he and Clinton conveyed everything they needed to exchange with only their expressions.
The clump of lights in the distance was probably the city of Sharee. Perhaps the river would carry them right back to the city. It was difficult to determine if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
Several of the Others exploded into view, all pouncing in the general direction of the group. Phinn lunged for Elena and yanked her out of harm's way, and she nearly collapsed from the strength he put into it.
Garrett took out one of them—then another. Clinton stepped forward and directed another powerful gust of wind at a few more. An Other swiped its paw towards Garrett and it connected with his chest. Garrett stumbled backwards and almost fell, but Clinton immediately got in between him and the beast. Then, as Garrett regained his balance, he whipped out a dagger from his belt and drove it into the creature's head.
He took Clinton by his collar and pulled him back towards the group. "Don't use anymore magic, Clinton!" he commanded.
"I just saved your life!" Clinton pointed out, getting to his feet.
"Lord Phinn!" Garrett called.
Phinn turned to the side and saw an Other charging directly at him. He prepared himself for impact (clearly excited since he had not fought enough yet), but Garrett had intended his yell to get Phinn to dodge. The Other's claws were out, ready to poison. Though, everyone had apparently forgotten Garrett still had his gun. He whipped it back out and shot twice at the creature and it was sent hurtling over the edge.
There was another quiet moment.
Olivier was whimpering, terrified. Elena found herself terrified as well, but she had perhaps never simultaneously felt so safe. Garrett and Clinton were amazing—and they were an amazing team as well. They seemed to be perfectly synchronized, and even though they were cornered right now, they were definitely going to walk away from this fight without getting a single injury.
As soon as she thought this, she watched Garrett raise his hand to his chest, and then glance down at his palm. It was difficult to see in the dark, but he was definitely wincing. And, there in his hand, there was blood.
"Garrett…" Elena started as he inched over to them with a sigh.
"From when it hit you?" Turner asked.
"It's all right," Garrett said. "It's just the glass…"
"Glass?" Lawson questioned.
Garrett pulled his jacket and collar aside to reveal there were a few shallow cuts in his chest, none of which looked serious. Clinton's face fell, though.
"Don't tell me your blood got mixed with…" he started.
The broken glass was from the vials containing the blood of the men from the other groups: Irving, Wood and Danver. Everyone seemed to realize it at the same time and they let out a collective frustrated groan.
"Were they aiming for that?" Turner whined.
"I don't think so," said Garrett as he reached across his arm just above his elbow and then looked at his hand again to reveal an additional copious amount of blood. "There's this too."
Clinton grabbed onto Garrett's arm and pulled it out straight so he could inspect the wound. Unfortunately, he quickly determined that the wound was not on his arm but, in fact, on his back near his shoulder.
Olivier's whimpering increased in volume.
"I can do an Intervention," Clinton announced.
"Not here, not now," Garrett said, pulling away from Clinton. "You've used too much magic already. You're going to end up passing out or hitting Limit and that is the last thing we need right now. Dispel the Trance."
"There might be more of them."
"I'll take care of them."
"Bullshit," Phinn interrupted. "You've done enough. Rest now. Give me your gun."
"I'm sorry, Lord Phinn. I can't do that. You are my responsibility, and I have to keep you safe no matter what."
Phinn was ready with all kinds of retorts, but Olivier's horrified whimpering turned into a shriek of fear as she pointed towards the trees. Everyone only had time to only turn as a leaping creature bound from the woods and sandbagged Phinn, sending him hurtling backwards and onto his back. As Phinn tried to wrestle with it, they rolled to the edge of the cliff and, wouldn't you know it? Right over.
Garrett didn't even hesitate a second. He was over the edge a split second following Phinn and the Other, diving through the air so aerodynamically that he practically hit the water before they did.
"Go!" Clinton commanded, gesturing towards the woods to point out there were several more Others on their way (perhaps he could acknowledge that he couldn't fight them all off on his own right now).
He was instructing them all to jump as well. Turner barely paused and was about to jump, but he saw Olivier was struggling with the idea. "Come on, it's like using an Air Swimmer except without the swoop!" he said, grabbing onto her wrist, obviously forgetting that Olivier had never ridden an Air Swimmer before. She screamed all the way down.
Lawson clearly did not see it this way either. Though, Elena knew it was not the drop that had Lawson terrified—it was the water. Clinton was not sympathetic, of course, as he tried to coax Lawson towards the edge. Even Elena tried, taking him by both his hands and trying to pull him.
Apparently Lawson would rather be torn apart by the Others than willingly leap into water that might have been over his head.
"Lawson, please!" Elena begged.
He merely shook his head as he put all his weight into leaning against her.
Clinton was not prepared to wait any longer. As Elena had both Lawson's arms and attention occupied, he merely swung his fist at Lawson's face and connected cleanly. As Lawson hit the ground, Clinton took him under both his arms and dragged him to the edge. Lawson was still conscious, looking bewildered by the sucker punch, barely able to comprehend when Clinton basically kicked him over the edge.
Elena felt like yelling at Clinton, but he grabbed onto her next and tossed her over the edge as well. She ripped through the air, screaming inadvertently, and the impact of the water shocked her system as she clawed her way to the surface.